Italian Dream Cars Are Turning Into Art This Summer
An Italian Renaissance art exhibit is usually the kind of attraction that would make a car guy (or gal) happily sit in the lobby play with the Ford GT configurator. But this summer in Nashville, enthusiasts are going to the front of the line. Now through October, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has an exhibit simply called “Bellissima!” that celebrates the greatest works from the Italian Automotive Renaissance. This is the thirty-year period following WWII when coachbuilders turned their ideas of the future into rolling sculpture. RELATED: See Photos of the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427
It was a time before safety regulations dictated style, and design houses didn't have corporate parents. Iconic coachbuilders like Pininfarina and Bertone still had their founders at the helm, and legends like Boano and Scaglietti knew how to make fast look beautiful.
While we now know this was only a short period in time, the craftsmanship was immediately appreciated throughout the industry. That’s why these coachbuilt vehicles were commissioned by manufacturers outside of Italy, including all of Detroit’s Big Three. It’s this international history that Bellissima! celebrates. It ranges from interesting engineering like the center-driven three-person 1966 Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti that predated the McLaren F1 by a quarter-century, to ultimate flights of fantasy like the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X “Gilda” that was cross-inspired by combining the sleekness of the jet age with the sex appeal of Rita Hayworth.
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The car as art is an interesting concept. After all, not many of us likely had our childhood bedrooms decorated with posters of bikini models straddling Van Goghs or duals between classic Michelangelo sculptures vs modern Picassos.
But each one of these vehicles is a handcrafted work by people with a vision. Plus, the prices certainly reflect the best in high art. This gallery contains one-of-a-kind creations that have sold for impressive amounts in the last few years such as the 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero that fetched over $1.1 million in 2011 and the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis that sold for $1.2 million last summer.
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A Ferrari 250 GTO has its own room in the exhibit, and appropriately so. It is the ultimate crossroads for this gallery because it has often been named the most beautiful car in the world and frequently sets new record prices at auction. Those who see this blue coupe as more than art will appreciate that it’s serial number #3387GT—the second one produced and used in early development testing. It was originally bought by Luigi Chinetti and raced under NART by Phil Hill before being sold to Bob Grossman who competed it through the rest of 1962.
For those who have a road trip going through Nashville this summer, here’s your opportunity to get close to the Italian icons you’ve spent a lifetime admiring. Besides, this might be the only time you can go to a museum and be more educated than your loved ones about the exhibits.
Photo Credit/Words: Myles Kornblatt for BoldRide